CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy came into the 2014 campaign eager to learn from the failures of a year ago, and they’ll get their first opportunity to right the wrongs of 2013 when they kick off their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Club Tijuana on Wednesday.
The two biggest letdowns of 2013 saw the LA Galaxy falter in two-leg series falling to C.F. Monterrey in the CCL Semifinals and Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite being played months apart, both series featured similar problems for the Galaxy as the team was unable to convert a number of scoring opportunities in the home leg before crashing out away from StubHub Center.
To correct these issues, the Galaxy invested heavily in experienced players during the offseason in hopes of turning the club’s fortunes around. A strategy that the team is hoping will pay off come Wednesday evening against Club Tijuana.
“We have to learn our lessons from previous games,” said defender Todd Dunivant, who is expecting to be available for Wednesday’s match after dealing with a nagging injury. “When you talk about previous games, you look at the Monterrey home leg, where we were dominating that game for 80 minutes and feeling confident that we could get another goal or another two goals but we lost our shape and when you do that against good teams it’s going to hurt you. We have to be smart.
“This year, this team has brought in more experienced players with guys like Rob Friend, Stefan Ishizaki that have been in big games and won championships in other countries,” Dunivant added. “There’s definitely a different mood around our clubhouse.”
And the first lesson that the Galaxy must learn? Finish their chances at home.
“In both of those games, we played very well, but we didn't finish our chances and it gets magnified in these series,” said Landon Donovan. “In a series like this, every goal is important. In both of those games, we played well at home, but we couldn’t finish our chances. We just have to be better in front of goal. It’s as simple as that.”
In the latest edition of LAGalaxy.com's "By the Numbers," we look at the LA Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals first leg against Club Tijuana.
Check it out below.
LA Galaxy club President Chris Klein and AEG Chief Operating Officer Kelly Cheeseman were named to Sports Business Journal's Fourty Under 40 list earlier this week.
Klein, a 12 year MLS veteran, has served as the club's President since January of 2013 after spending time as the Galaxy's Academy Director and Vice President. During Klein's tenure, the 38-year-old club President has played a major role along with LA head coach and general manager Bruce Arena at locking Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane to extended deals.
Cheeseman, 37, has been with AEG since 2001 when he served as an Account Executive for the Los Angeles Kings. The AEG COO splits time between the Kings and the Galaxy, and works closely with Klein and the Galaxy front office.
The LA Galaxy are looking ahead to their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Club Tijuana and in the lead up to Tuesday's match, CONCACAF.com spoke to several members of the club on the upcoming tournament.
The video includes a few interesting and dramatic shots of StubHub Center as well as informative interviews so check it out below.
CARSON, Calif. -- Samuel just tries... stuff.
In his MLS debut, new LA Galaxy forward Samuel did not shrink under the pressure as the club's new Brazilian put in a strong debut going 77 minutes alongside LA captain Robbie Keane.
Where the Brazilian was particularly effective was in his ability to hold up the ball while also creating chances for himself -- like a 31st minute shot that forced one of RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando's nine saves -- but one moment of flair stole the show. During the 33rd minute while attempting to escape RSL defender Aaron Maund, Samuel attempted to fire a rainbow kick over the defender that ultimately resulted in a Galaxy free kick.
Although his thoughts on the rainbow remain unknown, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was pleased with the Brazilian's debut performance.
"I thought Samuel had a real good game," said Arena following training on Monday. "He's still getting a feel for our team and the league, and the preseason was a period of adjustment, but I think that he's going to get better each game. You see the potential there."
Check out Samuel's audacious rainbow below.
CARSON, Calif. – Mexican teams have long ruled CONCACAF Champions League, but does that make Club Tijuana favorites against the LA Galaxy in this CCL Quarterfinals? Well, it’s not that simple says Club Tijuana forward Herculez Gomez.
In an interview with LAGalaxy.com, Gomez, a former member of the Galaxy, was asked whether Mexican team's 45-19-14 all-time record against MLS teams made Xolos favorites, the U.S. international disagreed, instead stating that LA have the advantage over their Mexican opponents.
“Look if we’re being honest, their salary cap, I don’t even call it a Salary cap. Their player personnel on paper probably outspend ours. We know that it’s going to be a test, but we’re excited,” Gomez told LAGalaxy.com. “We don’t have that huge marquee international player coming in. But we’ve got guys who have worked and stuck to their guns, and made a career out of what they do. In a brief time, they’ve done a lot.”
The response from his Galaxy opponents was pointed as they dismissed the claims of the U.S. international.
“It doesn’t really matter, but I would say as a general statement that the team with the higher payroll is probably the team that’s favored. All these Mexican teams pay their players a lot more money than we do as a whole,” said Donovan. “That’s something that we have to deal with, it’s a disadvantage for us in a lot of ways, but we still compete well and still expect to give them a good series.”
“I usually don’t listen to anything that Herculez Gomez says. He is just full of hot air,” said a smiling Omar Gonzalez. “They can feel whatever they want. I think that they’re a really good team. We won’t underestimate them. They have a lot of quality and a lot of players that don’t want to lose to us. It’s going to be an even match and our second game of the year, so I’m sure that it’ll be a great game. There’s a lot of respect there and I look forward to it.”
Check out the video below.
CARSON, Calif. -- Contrary to the LA Galaxy, Club Tijuana will enter the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal series on a winning note after dispatching C.D. Guadalajara 2-0 at Estadio Caliente on Friday evening.
Tijuana controlled much of the match from the early stages as Chivas struggled to generate much offense going forward. Argentine forward Dario Benedetto put the home side out in front after just 23rd minutes with an impressive right-footed screamer that blew past Guadalajara goalkeeper Jose Rodriguez. Benedetto was involved again in the 73rd minute when he found a waiting Jaime Ayovi for the final goal.
Club Tijuana will now travel to Southern California for their match against the Galaxy before taking on Cruz Azul in Mexico City next weekend.
Highlights from the match are below.
CARSON, Calif. – Jaime Penedo kept the LA Galaxy afloat, but ultimately, the Panamanian goalkeeper was unable to preserve the result for LA in their 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake.
Penedo made five saves on the evening including three highlight-reel stops in the first half, but was unable to keep Joao Plata’s 80th minute game-winning goal. After spending much of the preseason correcting his positioning issues heading into his first full season in MLS, the Panamanian admits that there is still plenty of work to be done.
“I think that I work hard in order to be able to be ready for games like these,” said Penedo. “Goals hurt me a lot and the goal that we allowed today is one that I will probably watch over and over again in order to see where I can improve. I think it was a quick play, and like I’ve always said, we’ll be able to correct the mistakes so they won’t happen again.”
Although the loss was frustrating, Penedo believes that the Galaxy made a positive statement in their first match of the season.
“I think the team did well, a team with an ability to score a lot of goals. Today we couldn’t score any but the important thing is that we are creating opportunities on goal,” said Penedo. “I’d be very worried if given the type of players that we have and being a club like the Galaxy we aren’t able to create scoring opportunities. Goals will come. In the back line, we’ll have to continue to be concentrated and focused.”
Two of the LA Galaxy's three supporters groups unveiled impressive tifo displays during the LA Galaxy's 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake.
Below is a timelapse video courtesy of LAGalaxy.com which shows the impressive effort from the Angel City Brigade. I, for one, am hoping for more like these in the future.
Check it out.
The LA Riot Squad also had a tifo unveiled prior to the match, which you can see below.
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) March 9, 2014
CARSON, Calif. -- The use of replacement officials was a major plot line heading into the first week of MLS action, but according to the LA Galaxy, they made little impact on their 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake.
Replacement head referee Javier Santos and his officiating crew called a total of 42 fouls during the match while also issuing five yellow card cautions. The most scrutinized calls came late in the second half when an RSL goal by Luke Mulholland was negated due to assistant referee Jose Da Silva signaling from an offside on the play. Santos made another key call in the dying moments of the match, when he signaled for a Galaxy penalty due to a foul by an RSL defender on LA forward Rob Friend that was ultimately saved by RSL’s Nick Rimando.
Following the match, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena labeled the officiating "pretty good" noting that he was pleased with the referee’s performances in each of the matches that he observed on Saturday. He wasn't alone in that sentiment after the final whistle.
"I thought they actually did well to be honest with you," said Galaxy captain Robbie Keane. "The first half especially they did very well. In the second half, there were a few things here or there, which is to be expected. Overall, I thought it was pretty good."
However, Landon Donovan was quick to note that there were some differences from the usual way that MLS matches are officiated.
"I thought that they did a pretty good job, but the only difference is they don't understand our league and how it plays," said Donovan. "I thought there were too many fouls called. They should have let the game go more, but overall, it wasn't a bad job. However, we certainly hope that we get our refs back because we under estimate how good they've become and we want them back as soon as possible.”